Friday, August 11, 2006

12 Helpful Suggestions for Men Regarding Conduct in Feminist Spaces

I haven't had any trouble with the men who comment here, but I know some feminist bloggers do... So if you're a guy who's interested in posting there or here but a little nervous about it, here's some tips.

(via LJ Feminist Forum)

10 comments so far. What are your thoughts?

dread king ian of nerdom said...

To be honest, I find that list and some of the attitudes behind it vaguely unsettling. I understand that there are plenty of guys who are insecure and assholes about feminism. I also understand that plenty of this type of men feel the need to attack feminist ideals. But that list isn't written to assholes. It's written to men. I'm certainly not insecure and while I may be an asshole, I'm the equal opportunity type. I'm willing to dislike all people equally.

It bothers me whenever I see a movement about equality and empowerment single out another group. How can a demand for equality be made through the use of this type of tactic? It just seems to me that some methods of fighting make it impossible to win.

I'm your friend Kam and I think I know what you mean to say. But why say it about men? Why not say it about people? My wee-wee doesn't control my actions any more than your who-ha controls yours.

If I didn't know you and didn't know what you meant I wouldn't be inclined to come back to your blog. I don't like feeling singled out and steriotyped as part of a group any more than the next man. Or woman.

I know this isn't what was intended by you and I doubt the author meant the twelve points in this way either. It seems more an expression of frustration with individuals who deserve what she said and more. By I think it is the wrong way to deal with the problem.

I'm not a feminist or any other kind of "ist" or "ism" for that matter. I don't claim to understand feminism but I respect other people's ideas and opinions and I like learning about them. I'm just plain old me and I do whatever I feel my thing is. As I said, the whole thing made me feel vaguely unsettled and this is the best I can do to explain why.

Esme said...

http://blog.shrub.com/archives/tekanji/2006-03-08_146 is also really good.

The point is that minority spaces are for that minority.
Why not direct it at "people?" Because men specifically are the ones who troll these types of blogs. It's directed at men because those are suggestions that men specifically need to learn to understand.

"My wee-wee doesn't control my actions any more than your who-ha controls yours."

May be true, but the fact that you have a penis, or appear to, means that you have received different treatment your entire life from those of us with vaginas. That penis has come with certain privileges, and men being the ones given those privileges are the ones who come here and tell us all about what we need to do to make feminism work, or that we're not focusing on the right things or that we're just doing it all wrong.

That first suggestion is really the most important one

Kameron Hurley said...

Ian - really? I don't find it any more offensive than if an African American woman came up to me and said, "You know, I appreciate the fact that you want to fight racism, but there's something a lot of non-black people tend to do when they enter our forums, and it pisses us off. Here's some of what it is so you can avoid doing it."

planet iantopia said...

I wasn't offended Kam. Just unsettled as I said. It made me feel less welcome in any discussion and I thought that was the point of all this. To talk to people and maybe understand each other more.

esme I don't disagree that being a man gives me priveleges as well as responsibilities that women don't recieve. Sometimes that's good for me and I'm not ashamed to use it to my advantage. It's easier to be taken seriously in my proffesion as a man. A woman has to be better to get the same recognition and I don't deny it. I know this for a fact because my boss is a woman and she is extremely good at her job. At the same time, I have a selective service number. Sends a bit of a chill down your spine when you're sign up for that...but that's not what this dicussion is about. I just wanted to acknowledge your point and say I don't disagree.

Perhaps what bothered me was that parts of it felt like I was being told to not behave in a manor that I never would have considered anyway.

Another part of it for me is I have been there for friends after an asshole is no longer in their life. I dislike being put in a category with that kind of person. It hits a nerve.

I think it is a little different than the example you gave Kam. I still wouldn't like being steriotyped but I wouldn't be as bothered by being lumped in with the well meaning but possibly ignorant. Being lumped in with people who I despise is another matter.

As far as the minority space for minorities, I guess I don't understand the idea in general. People are people to me, esme. Reading that last sentence, it sounds a little silly even to me but that's how my brain in wired.

The final thing I want to say is hard for me to articulate so I'll just do my best and hope people get the idea. It bothers me when a movement that is for something starts to become against something. I'll use one that is very near to me. I'm a devout Christian and the entire message of Jesus is about love, forgiveness, and acceptance. People have taken that and they use it as an excuse to abuse their fellow man. For other examples of why this corruption of beliefs bothers me look at modern Islam compared to the first couple hundred years of the caliphate, the black counter culture of the 70's, the splintering of Christianity in post Justinian Byzantine Empire, the expulsion of the Jews from Portugal, and I could come up with more but don't want to. Yes these are all very complex events but it can't be denied that there is a big difference between fighting for something and fighting against something.

Perhaps my explainations make little sense but I'm too exhausted to do better.

Kameron Hurley said...

Perhaps what bothered me was that parts of it felt like I was being told to not behave in a manor that I never would have considered anyway.

But, of course, there are plenty of people those comments do apply to. I know you don't hang at many feminist blogs, but the sorts of things they're addressing are things that happen all the time over at other blogs, so they're pretty good guidelines for guys who want to join in a conversation but aren't sure when and if they're overstepping.

I don't know, again - if somebody said, "Women shouldn't become hysterical at board meetings and burst into tears because it looks unprofessional..." I can see how that guideline might be one I'd find offensive: It assumes that because I'm a woman, I'd be prone to become hysterical at board meeting, like all women are just emotional hysterics.

At the same time, if that was the sort of behavior seen often during board meetings (obviously, it's not, but I'm trying to think of something silly), then telling women to curb their emotions at the door (which, actually, many women are told to do in business. "Act more like men" is how we're supposed to do business, not reinvent it, which is kinda stupid, IMO) would be seen as giving women "helpful" advice, whereas I'd see that advice as assuming that all women are hysterical and emotional (and that emotion is a bad thing, but that assumption is inherent in the statement).

Hmmmm I do still stand by the guidelines, but I suppose I can see where that sort of thing would bother me.

David Moles said...

I blame the second person, myself.

admiral ian of the western bath tub said...

Well, perhaps we will just have to agree to disagree then Kam. Oh well. Won't be the first time and won't be the last.

I deffinately see the points you have and the facts behind them, but we're both just going to draw different conclusions here.

Esme said...

"I don't know, again - if somebody said, "Women shouldn't become hysterical at board meetings and burst into tears because it looks unprofessional..." I can see how that guideline might be one I'd find offensive: It assumes that because I'm a woman, I'd be prone to become hysterical at board meeting, like all women are just emotional hysterics. "

Boardrooms aren't spaces devoted to constructive conversation about breaking down privilege of women to get all crazy emotional. Boardrooms are focused by men, just as these blogs are focused on women, but boardrooms are hardly a space which has the PURPOSE of being devoted to men. That is it focused on men is a result of a larger social climate in which the dominant culture is focused on men.

I would more liken it to me, as an American, hopping over to a French blog and complaining that they have rules asking people to speak French.

Kameron Hurley said...

Good example, Esme.

I think that with mine, I was trying to understand why Ian would be offended, and constructing a situation where I'd be similiarly offended.

gracious gift of god-ian said...

Seriously, I'm not offended Kam. I respect you and we're friends. If you had offended me I would have told you and told only you. I've been trying to think of how I want to express myself better for a while now tonight but I've decided I don't really want to. Thus I am excercising my right to be both fickle and blase. These two words describe not only a state of deep and meditative enlightenment, but are also really fun to say. However, do you remember some of the stuff we all talked about at the pancake house in Chicago? Well this is the same idea. What you say is not always limited to what you've typed.

And I like pancakes. 

Posted by ian